Hyun Jin Ryu, Matt Chapman, Brandon Belt, Kevin Kiermaier and Jordan Hicks are all set to become unrestricted free agents at the end of the current campaign. Other potential free agents for the Blue Jays include Whit Merrifield (mutual option) and Chad Green and his ... complicated contract.
So far, aside from Green's situation, there are few question marks about who is hitting free agency and when. But we can add another player to the list, one who has been an integral part of this Blue Jays roster over the course of the season: Jay Jackson.
According to sources familiar with the situation, Jackson is indeed playing on an expiring contract. He's not listed in MLBTR's upcoming free agents piece and Baseball Reference says he is still pre-arb eligible and is not currently slated to become a free agent until the conclusion of the 2027 season, but this is not actually the case.
Once the season comes to an end, the 35-year-old is going to become an XX-B free agent. Typically, this label is reserved only for players that have at least six years of big league service time under their belt (Jackson has just over one year despite this being his 16th professional season) and have finished the previous season on a club's 40-man roster or 60-day injured list. To provide further clarification, source says that a player's status as an XX-B free agent is an item that can be negotiated into contracts by their agents if their service time is under six years in the big leagues.
Digging a bit deeper, this is not the first time Jackson has had this exact clause in one of his contracts. Typically, players returning to Major League Baseball after playing overseas will try to get this negotiated into one of his deals. Beyond his current contract, Jackson had the same item in his 2019 deal with the Brewers and his 2021 one with the Giants.
So, add Jackson's name to the list of pending free agents. The right-hander and his family have become fan favorites amongst followers of the Blue Jays. Jackson and his fiancé, Sam, have a premature son in the NICU and their frequent health updates on little JR have been some of the brightest spots of the season for your typical Blue Jays faithful. On the mound, Jackson has an infectious smile and positive personality that have gone a long way to turning him into someone that everyone easily roots for.
In game action, Jackson has been damn good there as well, which only furthers the love Blue Jays fans have for him. In 23 big league outings, the veteran hurler has a 2.36 ERA and 183 ERA+, striking out 25 and walking just eight in 26.2 innings of work. He has been shuffled back and forth between the big leagues and Triple-A multiple times this year, which can't make what he has going on off-the-field any easier, but he continues to approach every day and every situation with a smile on his face.